Health And Safety Stops Rescue Of Drowning Man

A man has died in Gosport after health and safety restrictions stopped fire fighters from rescuing him.

43-year-old Simon Burgess, a charity shop worker, fell into a lake and drowned at Walpole Park in Gosport, Hampshire, on March 10. At a hearing on Tuesday witnesses recalled how that when fire crew arrived they refused to try and rescue the man, as the water was more than ankle deep.

"The firemen arrived with the police,” Gillian Hughes told the inquest, “He's only been there 5 or 10 minutes, so if you hurry you might save him.”

'We're not allowed' was the response.

A second fire crew arrived and began to walk around the lake testing the depth of the water with a pole, but by this time Burgess had drifted from one side of the lake to the other. He is thought to have had an epileptic seizure just before or after falling in.

Deborah Coles, the control room manager at Hampshire Fire and Rescue, told the inquest that she took the call from Hughes at 12.17pm and, within a minute, had sent a fire appliance, a water rescue trained crew and a water support unit. She told the inquest, "The specialist teams are there to deal with water which is over half a boot in depth. At 12.20pm, the fire crew confirmed attendance and at 12.25 they told us a male was floating face down." She went on, "The water support unit arrived at 12.31pm. At 12.46, we received a message requesting our press officer attend the scene. At 12.52, an update came in saying a male had been recovered, and at 12.58 he was taken to hospital." Burgess was pronounced dead at 13.42.

The hearing into his death continues.


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